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Two of Holland's most famous hookers give Gavin Haines the ultimate introduction to Amsterdam's red-light district. Aptly, I meet the hookers on a street corner. I flash them an awkward smile and their painted lips part to reveal pearly white teeth. Martine and Louise Fokkens are identical twins and have the dubious distinction of being the most famous hookers in Holland. Cue Elard Jan, who works with the Fokkens and interjects to explain the virtues of offering journalists a freebie.
It will be good publicity, he tells them, or words to that effect. The girls acquiesce and we set off for their brothel. Under a bruising Dutch sky, we start our tour what did you think I was doing here? The conversation is lively, but disjointed: I do, however, gather that Louise was first into the trade, forced to take up prostitution by her abusive husband. So the girls started offering threesomes.
Was that not a bit weird, having sex together, I ask. We hang a right down Koestraat, a narrow, bike-lined street on the edge of the red-light district, stopping outside number The girls linger outside the property wistfully. But Louise and Martine also experienced bad pimps, whose violent episodes convinced them to go it alone and open their own brothel. Those pioneering days were the golden years, say the girls.
Most of them are from Eastern Europe. The part-time painters encourage me to take photographs of every piece. Meet the Fokkens is not well written; its clumsy anecdotes discard the rules of grammar like a used condom, but they do offer a curious insight into the lives of the hookers.
Rather than peeling back a curtain on the red-light district, the twins try to pull it off the rail; telling tales of masochist ministers, sadist businessmen and blokes who pretend to be donkeys during intercourse. I put this to them, but they stand by their assertions. So how would they react, I ask, if one of their daughters followed them into the profession?